Friday, November 8, 2013

Talk at CMR for Hindu Business Line - The Preparation of the Ideal Manager

What makes the ideal manager? How does one go about preparing to be one?
Those are the two questions we will dwell on.

Who is the ideal manager?
The ideal manager is the one - to put it simply - who can manage anything. The SuperManager! I know it gives visions of some shady hustler but no. It's not the manager who hides things under the carpet or does some jugaad and gets things done.

I am hinting at one who has built managerial skills, knowledge and decision making powers that give positive results everytime. He is a high performer who adds great value to the team. Let me leave it there.

He need not be from a top institute. He need not even be an MBA.
How close or how far are we from being that ideal manager is the question.

Is it possible to be one?
Of course it is possible to be one. One need not only be from a premier institute or have some classy degrees. Let me share what I think is the way to prepare to be the Ideal Manager.

But before that let me share two concepts from two extremely interesting books 'The Outliers' and 'The Mindset'.

The 10,000 hour Rule
In Malcolm Gladwell's 'Outliers' he dwells on the 10,000 hour rule propounded by Anders Ericsson the expert on expertise. The rule concludes that one requires about 10000 hours to achieve expertise good enough for greatness. The subjects chosen were the Beatles, Bill Gates etc.

The idea is that by working on a particular skill for about 3 hours everyday for about 10 years, you achieve expertise. Which means we are looking at work - not merely talent or some unknown luck factor.

Mindset, The New Psychology of Success
In Carol Dweck's 'Mindset, The New Psychology of Success' she talks of how anything can be learned through hard work and growth oriented learning. Also that intelligence is not fixed. She talks of the two main mindsets - fixed and growth mindsets. Fixed mindsets are those that believe that only talent will take them through. Because they are talented they ought not work hard. So they have a desire to look smart, they avoid challenges because they get caught out, give up easily, get defensive, see effort as fruitless, ignore useful and negative feedback and plateau early. On the other hand the growth mindset person believes in growth, in constant effort, has a desire to learn, embraces challenges, persists in setbacks, learn from criticism and attain full potential.

The idea to take form this book is that growth oriented effort is the key. Talent is just a useless label. Growth oriented effort takes you forward. Anyone can use it.

Having established that effort is unavoidable, let's look at preparation now.

What do we mean by preparation?
Preparation is the key to how you perform. The amount of preparation you have made shows exactly in your performance. To grow, your are better off preparing for the next level, on the three aspects of preparation - skill, physical and mental.

The 3 tenets of Preparation
1) Preparation is 90% of the performance. How well you prepare is how well you perform on the job. If you hone your skills, your subject knowledge, you will deliver better.

2) Prepare for the next level always. In fact better preparation only means that one must be in the top 30%, the undroppable levels. We normally look for people who are prepared for the next level of responsibility.

3) Preparation includes being fully prepared on skill, physical and mental areas.

How to prepare?
At the first level look at optimizing the use of our resources. At the second level, look at efficient utilization of resources.

Optimum utilization of resources
First look at your resources. We all have only two resources really - time and energy. How well we use our time and energy is what decides how good your preparation really is.

Let's say you put in 2 hours a day for 300 days, that makes you that much better at whatever you are doing.

The 10000 hour rule for expertise says that one needs to put in 10000 hours at any skill to achieve greatness at it. Where are you putting your hours?

Efficient utilization of resources
Second, how you use that 600 hours is important. Not just hard work. There must be an understanding of the process. You need guides and coaches. You must know what's good for you, what has value, how to prioritise to get the best results for efforts.

Your preparation for the Ideal Manager?
On what factors do we rate the ideal manager?
We look at three factors as mentioned above - skill, physical aspects and mental preparation. All three put together need to come together to give us a match winning player or the ideal manager.

Skill and Physical preparation is 20% - Basics
Of the three factors we rate mental preparation at 70%-80% of the job. Skill and physical aspects, despite being fundamental, constitute only 20% of the job.

At first level, we need you to be fully prepared on the 20%. Skill and Physical aspects help. So get perfect scores there. Complete knowledge of the process, honing of skills and perfect presentation.

Use your resources - time and energy now - to develop the skill and physical aspects. One hour, two hours, three hours. The more time and energy you devote, the better you will get.

Mental Preparation - 80%
The mental aspects are about your understanding, your perspective, subject knowledge, planning, processes, goals, roles, systems and application. Your learning process, your growth orientation. Your track record, strengths, areas to improve, skills needed to manage, attitude, growth orientation. As a super manager you assess your attitude, physical and mental stamina required to handle pressure, to take responsibility and deliver.

If you have these qualities, have shown willingness to take greater responsibility, to apply your learning, to learn and seek, to seek success and also handle failure, then we rate you higher than others.

What does the mental part constitute?
The mental part looks at goal clarity, process clarity, knowledge, application of knowledge, resilience, responsibility, team orientation and growth orientation. All this should certainly result in a much higher performance.

What the mind can see, you can achieve.

Luck Is Another Word For Preparation
There is no luck. There is only preparation. Good preparation brings good luck. Bad preparation brings bad luck.

When you are fully prepared, opportunities appear. When you are not prepared, you cannot even recognize opportunities all around you.

Performance as a Measure of Preparation, of Process Orientation
Your performance clearly tells you how well you prepared. If the performance is not as expected, it needs a look at the process. Get help. It's either a skill issue or an effort issue.

The time and energy you have now can be used to prepare for a better start. If you compress your learning of the next 5 years into this year and next, you get a better start in every way. You can build on it.
Prepare well. You will enjoy the fruits of good preparation for a long time.


No comments: